Travel in Tibet Autonomous Region: Six cities and one prefecture of Tibet

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Travel in Tibet Autonomous Region should be an organized tour and it is very important to get to know a general knowledge of Tibet from the point of geography before you go to Tibet. Tibet Autonomous Region is located in the southwest of the Qinghai Tibet Plateau, with an average altitude of more than 4000 meters, known as the “roof of the world”.

Lhasa is the capital of Tibet and the headquarters of the Tibet Autonomous Region which is one of the five ethnic autonomous regions in China.

Tibet Autonomous Region is the province with the least population and density in China. Today’s population of Tibet Autonomous Region is 2.8000 million and eighty thousand people. 

The population distribution of the whole region is very unbalanced, mainly concentrated in the South and East. The middle reaches of Yarlung Tsangpo River and its main tributaries, Lhasa River and Niangchu River Basin, are the most densely populated areas. Ali in the west of Tibet and Naqu in the north of Tibet have a very small population. The northern part of Qiangtang grassland is even called “no man’s land”.

It is essential to know how this big Tibetan high plateau is divided before the travel in Tibet Autonomous Region. Tibet Autonomous Region is divided into six cities and one prefecture. They are Lhasa city in the center, Shigatse city in the west, Shannan city in the south, Nyingtri city in the eastern forest region, Nagqu city in the north, Chamdo city in the far east and Ngari prefecture in the far west.

Lhasa, which means “holy land” or “Buddhist land” in Tibetan, has been the political, economic, cultural and religious center of Tibet. The magnificent Potala Palace is the symbol of the supreme political and religious regime and it is a must visit sights when you travel in Tibet.

 As early as the seventh century, after Songtsan Gampo annexed neighboring tribes and unified Tibet, Songtsan Gampo moved his capital from Yarlung valley to Lhasa, (now Lhasa), and established the Tubo dynasty.

Shannan ( Lhoka in Tibetan ) , a prefecture-level city under the jurisdiction of the Tibet Autonomous Region is located to the south of Lhasa city and lower reaches of the main stream of the Brahmaputra River ( Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibetan ) from Kailash ( Gangdise or Kang Rinpoche in Tibetan ) to Nyenchen Tang Gu la Mountain.

Shannan is considered as the origins of Tibetans and believe that the monkey and mountain ogress got married and gave birth to the six offspring. Those 6 offspring were multiplied to five hundred offspring and slowly, those offspring are believed to be transformed into human beings.

According to the legend, the monkey is considered as the manifestation of Avalokitesvara or the god of compassion and the supine ogress is considered as the manifestation of Tara. During your Tibet tour, you can see a big mountain called Wangpo Ri in front of Tsetang, the head city of Shannan which is the place where the monkey and mountain ogress used to give the birth.

Shannan has more than 600 kilometers long boundary line with a very important strategic position. Samye Is one of the main scenic spots of Yarlung valley, located in Samye Town under Shannan District of Tibet Autonomous Region.

Samye monastery was built in the period of Tubo Dynasty in the 8th century AD during the reign of Tibetan King Trisong Detsen. It is the first monastery in Tibet where seven wise men were ordained and become the first monks of Tibet.

The construction of Samye monastery was built according to the Buddhist cosmology, surrounded by beautiful different colored Buddhist stupa. The central Buddha Hall building has three styles of Tibetan, Han and India. Samye monastery is one of the most interesting scenic sights to visit during your Tibet tour.

Shigatse, a prefecture-level city under the jurisdiction of the Tibet Autonomous Region, is located in the southwest border of the People’s Republic of China. Shigatse has a population of 750,000 in 2017 and has jurisdiction over 1 municipal district and 17 counties. There is Mount Everest, in Dingri County, Shigatse city, the highest peak in the world. If you plan to travel in Tibet Autonomous Region, you should not miss to travel to Everest Base Camp from Tibet side.

There are many other cultural sights and scenic sights in Shigatse such as Shigatse and Gyantse fortress ( Dzong in Tibetan ), Tashi Lhunpo monastery, the seat of the Penchen Lama and a home to a giant statue of Maitreya Buddha or the future Budha, Palchoe monastery and Kubum Pagoda stupa, the biggest Buddhist stuap in Tibet, Shalu monastery, dominated by it’s unique green rooftop, Sakya monastery where it holds the largest Buddhist library in the world and five most beautiful Tibet trekking gorges in the world including Kangshung face valley.

Chamdo, officially Qamdo or Changdou in Chinese, a prefecture-level city under the jurisdiction of the Tibet Autonomous Region , is located in the Hengduan Mountain and the Sanjiang River ( three rivers )  (Jinsha River, Lancang River, Nujiang River) basins, located in the eastern part of Tibet, at the border between Tibet and Sichuan, Qinghai and Yunnan.

With Chamdo as the center, known as “Pearl of Tibet East” laudatory name. Ranwu lake is located in Ranwu Town, Bashoe County, Chamdo City, about 90 kilometers away from the county seat of Bashoe. It is the main source of PALONG Tsangpo river, a tributary of Yarlong Tsangpo River. Ranwu Lake in Tibetan means “goat milk like Lake”. The whole lake is like a narrow river valley, When the ice and snow melt, the snow water will flow into the lake, so that there is always abundant water here.

Chamdo was not opened to the tourist till 2019 so there are many nice and off the beaten trails to be discovered if you make a plan to travel to Chamdo during your Tibet tour. One of the most adventurous and beautiful Tibet adventure tours is Shangrila to Lhasa overland tour which takes you to many beautiful places in Chamdo. During this spectacular Tibet overland tour, you will drive along the beautiful villages of Tsakalo, salt field village, Ranwu lake and Chamdo Jampaling monastery so on.

Without making several travel in Tibet Autonomous Region, you cannot complete exploring the most beautiful parts of Tibet such as Nyingtri, a prefecture-level city of the Tibet Autonomous Region, is known as Gongbu .meaning “the throne of the Niang family or the throne of the sun “. Located in the southeast of Tibet, the middle and lower reaches of the Yarlung Tsangpo River, Nyingtri has beautiful scenery, dominated by dense forest, snow-capped mountains, beautiful glacier and gorgeous lakes.

Many areas in Nyingtri are known as “the south of Tibet because they are located to the border between Tibet and India”. There are Nyingtri Peach Blossom Festival, rich and colorful Nyingtri ditch, etc. At the bottom of Metok County and Zayul County, there is the deepest canyon in the world – Yarlung Tsangpo River Grand Canyon and the third deepest canyon in the world – PALONG Zangbo Grand Canyon. If you are tired of visiting wilderness of the Tibetan plateau and dessert land, you can make a visit to Nyingtri during your travel in Tibet Autonomous Region.

Nagchu or Naqu officially, a prefecture-level city under the jurisdiction of the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is located in the north of Tibet and the eastern end of Changtang plateau or Qiangtang Plateau, the mountains are continuously distributed, divided by many lakes and basins, and the lakes are scattered. The average altitude is above 4500 meters. The climate is dry with high cold and lack of oxygen.

Nagchu, Naqu officially, was once called “black river” because of the Nagchu River in the upper reaches of Nujiang River passing through the territory. People in northern Tibet are enthusiastic, open-minded, generous and helpful. They are especially good at singing and dancing. They have melodious singing, beautiful dancing and bright rhythm, especially tap dancing and circle dancing.

Ngari, officially known as Ali, region is a prefecture-level administrative region of the Tibet Autonomous Region, located in the northern part of the Qinghai Tibet Plateau — the core of the Qiangtang Plateau, “Ali” is a transliteration of Tibetan, meaning “territory”,etc.

Until the beginning of the 9th century, it was still called Shangzhong “Xiang Xiong officially “. In Chinese historical records, different dynasties have different names for it. With an average altitude of more than 4500 meters, Ali area is known as “the roof of the roof of the world”, “the third pole of the world” and “the forbidden area of life”.

The main mountains in the territory are the great Himalayas, Gangdise or Kailash, Karakoram Mountain, etc., the main rivers are Senge Kabob or Shiquan River, Xiangquan River, Peacock River, etc., and the main lakes are Mansarovar lake, Zarina mucuo, Bangong Lake, Rakshastal lake, etc. The mystical Guge Kingdom and Tholing monastery which are the second highlights of Ali region when you make a travel in Tibet Autonomous Region.

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